State of emergency until August 22 . . .
Just weeks before the Olympics are set to commence, Japan’s Olympics Minister Tamayo Marukawa announced today that the Games will go forward without spectators. The news follows a surge of infections and fears about the rise of the Delta variant in Japan this week that prompted Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to declare another state of emergency in Tokyo until August 22. Torch relays will be reduced or hosted off public roads, and promotional events have been cancelled. Some medical researchers suggest adding more ventilation in spaces and minimizing social contact to foster a safer environment.
Testing positive for COVID-19 weeks before the Olympics . . .
Meanwhile, a Serbian Olympic rowing team member tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival in Japan on Sunday. The athlete was placed in isolation at Tokyo’s Haneda airport, while four others travelling with the athlete were transferred to a facility near the airport. Given these circumstances, the Serbian rowing team is unlikely to attend training before the Olympics. This is the second team to encounter such challenges. Last month, two Ugandan Olympic delegation members tested positive for the Delta COVID-19 variant despite being fully vaccinated and carrying certificates demonstrating negative COVID-19 test results.
A slow increase in Japan’s vaccination drive . . .
In June, Japan’s daily COVID-19 vaccine dose record reached the one-millionth mark. However, only 12.65 per cent of Japan’s population has been fully vaccinated as it struggles with a vaccine shortage. Japan has only received one-third of the 40 million doses of the Moderna shot that it was set to receive by the end of June. Shipment delays arose amid the growing demand for the Moderna vaccine around the world. While Japan’s vaccination efforts have gradually risen in recent weeks, the Japanese government faces growing pressure to vaccinate more of its population before the Olympics commence.